I used to wonder why
old women in house shoes swept their porches
day after day.
The dirt just comes back, I thought.
Isn’t that sort of Sisyphean? A task, rather,
that can’t ever be completed.
But slowly, as life swept me up like a dustball in the corner of a hot summer porch,
I found myself at dusk one spring
sweeping, sweeping, sweeping
the dirt balls of a 6-year-old thinking that
this here was nothing short of paradise.
Now that seems an exaggeration, I am sure, but truly
— isn’t it that the task is not always about the result —
but more about the task itself?
This tidying of a driveway at dusk,
the breathing in of the evening air,
the meditative hush of the
swish, swish, swish
against the concrete —
the chore became nothing less than an act of love.
And in that moment it was the best I could do to say
for the simple fact
that I have been given a porch to sweep
in front of a house that holds
my greatest joy.
The dirt comes back
And so do the dirty diapers
Another lullaby to sing
Another dishwasher to unload
Another dryer to fill
Another goodnight prayer to say
And just when I think
— there’s always more to do —
I find myself wondering
Well, what else would I do anyway?
Nothing, I’m sure, that would be all that fulfilling.
And maybe it seems a bit overdone: really, a poem about sweeping?
But, of course, it’s not about the sweeping at all.
And that’s what those old ladies in house shoes
know better than anyone.